Sunday, May 31, 2015

L.A. Area's Gallery Nucleus Exhibits Hatsune Miku


The Gallery Nucleus in the Los Angeles suburb of Alhambra announced that it will be displaying an art in an exhibition focusing on virtual idol Hatsune Miku from July 2-19. The exhibit is titled "Hatsune Miku Dreams of Electric Sheep" in reference to Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? novel from which Blade Runner was based.

The exhibit is a collaboration between the gallery and Crypton Future Media, Inc. The company hosted an open call for art submissions to be featured in both the exhibit and a limited exhibition catalog.

Gallery Nucleus describes the exhibit as "exciting line-up of original art, featuring the blue-haired virtual virtuosa and her futuristic universe."

Gallery Nucleus has previously hosted the art of manga creator Junko Mizuno and an exhibit centering on Square Enix's Final Fantasy X/X-2 video game.


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Blood Blockade Battlefront ‒ Episode 9


This episode was, as Gandalf would say, "the deep breath before the plunge." It was the big "something's coming" episode that puts all the narrative and emotional pieces into place for everything to explode during the finale. Weirdly enough, this means that very little actually happens in the episode! In the first half, Libra intercepts the Blood Breed delivery they were promised last week and seals the monster away down with style, teamwork, and a little rogue silliness. In the second half, the full details of Black and White's tragedy come to light, painting a much clearer picture of what's in store for the siblings, Leonardo, and even the fate of the entire world beyond Hellsalem's Lot. This is a rare episode of Blood Blockade Battlefront that you can follow with ease and doesn't beg for a second viewing to fully appreciate.

At least, it was supposed to be. In fact, you might have to watch this episode twice to fully parse it, but I don't mean "right away." This is more of a "go back and watch this episode after the entire series is over" situation. Between its two distinct halves, there's a central conversation between Femt, Aligura, and the "King of Despair" inside Black's body meant to hold the episode together. It's not a poorly written chitchat by any means, but it plays a real nasty trick on the audience that I can't say I'm a fan of. I'll have to go down a tiny rabbit trail to explain why, so just bear with me.

I consider BBB to be a show that "demands engagement" of its audience, which just means that I don't think you can watch it passively and appreciate or understand what's going on very well, even if it is a wackadoodle action-comedy. Because of both its rapid pace and reliance on film language to communicate its ideas (rather than spelling them out in plot or dialogue), it doesn't work as entertainment that you can just let wash over you. This is not the same thing as calling a show "smart" or "dumb," mind you. (I would argue that many anime demand audience engagement but seem extremely dumb when the layers are peeled back.) it's a hard quality to define, and people are bound to have widely divergent opinions on what works as passive entertainment and what doesn't. Using classic titles as examples, I would say that both Cowboy Bebop and Ghost in the Shell Standalone Complex are extremely intelligent shows, but the latter demands engagement to appreciate and the former does not. Using two of this current season's most critically praised series as examples, I might say that OreGairu demands audience engagement to appreciate, while Sound! Euphonium can be enjoyed passively, and that doesn't mean I consider one better or smarter than the other. They're just different types of entertainment.

My point is that shows like BBB that "demand engagement" are almost constantly accused of purposeful obfuscation at best or "pretension" (an abused term) at worst: being vague or arty or subtle for no other reason to seem smarter than they actually are or substitute a puzzlebox for simple storytelling. As a lover of "engagement-reliant entertainment," I'm usually in the camp that combats these accusations, and it's a camp I feel like I can defend pretty well, but not this time. The other camp is right on the money this time. The three vampire kings' banter in this episode is 100% pure taunting obscura, meant to dangle the mystery for as long as possible and not make any sense to anybody until you've seen all the cards laid out at the end of the show. Femt and Aligura's normally exuberant and plain-spoken personalities have been locked up as tightly as possible to allow for a conversation with Black where no one really says anything that can truly be deciphered yet, apart from "the big plan is going to happen." There's no reason for them to not hint at more details or blurt more personal motivation in this context: they're cementing the final terms of a deal, for crying out loud. Still, their dialogue doesn't even try to hide that it's just not telling the audience anything on purpose. There are three, count 'em three separate allusions to the King of Despair's true name where the camera cuts away right before a reveal in this episode alone. That's going way past intrigue and straight into tryhard. It might work for some anime, but BBB has developed a reputation as a show that delivers hard and fast, not the kind that spends too much time giving everyone blue balls.

So the plot may be stringing us along this week, but if you came for action or pathos, this episode delivers as hard as you've come to expect. It turns out that the "part 2" in "Z's Longest Day" meant not a second hardship for Zapp, but a second "Z" for the cast: Shizuyoshi's new pupil Zed. He too uses the Big Dipper thread-style of blood battle, but wields a blood-trident with wind powers to contrast Zapp's blood-sword with fire powers. Zed is everything that Zapp is not: reliable, stalwart, respectful, and obedient. He's also a fish-person, in a blatant homage to Hellboy's Abe Sapien, right down to his color scheme. Zapp finds this incredibly hilarious for some reason. Zapp, that's species-ist! Still, it takes two to subdue a Blood Breed, and with their powers combined, (along with a little help from everyone else on the team,) their efforts make for a kickass fight scene. Shizuyoshi is so impressed by their "garbage potential" as a team that he leaves Zed in their care. Yay, Libra has a new member! It's too bad that he seems so much less interesting than all the other members. I guess they can't all be Dog Hammer and Deldro Brody. (I'm so glad they came back in this episode!)

After the action settles, the pathos kicks in. As White convulses from tremors caused by the culmination of Evil Black's plan (whatever it is), we flash back to her brother's possession by the King of Despair to discover that her story is identical to Leo's right down to the staging and even specific lines of dialogue! ("If you must take from one of us, take from me!") Fortunately, the other parallels between her life and Leo's are more subtle. Both of them are living lives ruled by guilt and obligation to suffering family members, while resisting their own possibilities for a future and new connections. In Leo's case, the choice is less loaded. He's risking his life and working his ass off to send all his money home to his sister, but he's also saving and enriching lives as a hero he never knew he could be. He's a good kid making good decisions, and the last thing holding him back is full commitment to Libra. I suspect he's been laboring this whole time under the assumption that he'll be headed back home to his sister, and he doesn't want to think too hard about how happy he's found himself working for Libra. Klaus sees this too and offers him a few words of encouragement: "It wasn't just your eyes that we welcomed into Libra." Leo may have stayed in HL out of guilt and obligation, but he's also found a whole new family here, if he's willing to accept it. (Maybe his sister can even move in!)

Things aren't so simple for White. She's not out discovering a new life for herself, she's trapped in a prison created by her brother's selfless decision. (This is why you don't make deals with the devil!) She's been forced into a position where she's forced to choose between her best friend (or more-than-friend) and her brother, with no truly happy outcome. If she doesn't betray Leo and take his eyes, the King of Despair will kill her brother or subject him to a fate worse than death. If she does betray Leo, her brother may be spared, but the entire world will fall to the King of Despair's evil plan. Either way, that barrier is fraying fast, and Hellsalem's Lot is probably screwed if she can't make a choice soon. This could have been an eleventh-hour sob story crammed into the show to support Leo's journey, but the show has done such an impeccable job of making us care about White that it even outshines the first half of the episode's fun-filled fight sequence. I hope she and Leo can rescue each other and protect their loved ones while still looking to the future.

This is a good episode, but since it was 90% bait-dangling and teasing by volume, it doesn't carry the honest emotional kick it easily could have. The purposeful obfuscation is made even more torturous by next episode's preview, which seems to imply a fun comedy filler romp between Libra's two troublesome Z's next week, meaning we'll get a two-part finale and a solid two weeks to wait for answers. Blood Blockade Battlefront, why are you so cruel to me?

Rating: B+

Blood Blockade Battlefront is currently streaming on Funimation.

Hope has been an anime fan since childhood, and likes to chat about cartoons, pop culture, and visual novel dev on Twitter.

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Top-Selling Manga in Japan by Volume: 2015 (First Half)



This list covers sales surveyed from November 17, 2014 to May 17, 2015.

1 3,079,249 One Piece 76 Shueisha 2014/12
Eiichiro Oda
2 2,735,955 One Piece 77 Shueisha 2015/04
Eiichiro Oda
3 1,831,800 Attack on Titan 15 Kodansha 2014/12
Hajime Isayama
4 1,561,770 Attack on Titan 16 Kodansha 2015/04
Hajime Isayama
5 1,204,059 Naruto 72 Shueisha 2015/02
Masashi Kishimoto
6 904,661 Haikyu!! 14 Shueisha 2014/12
Haruichi Furudate
7 903,947 Blue Spring Ride 12 Shueisha 2014/12
Io Sakisaka
8 894,596 Assassination Classroom 12 Shueisha 2014/12
Yusei Matsui
9 884,010 Tokyo Ghoul:re 1 Shueisha 2014/12
Sui Ishida
10 859,449 Assassination Classroom 13 Shueisha 2015/03
Yusei Matsui
11 850,540 The Seven Deadly Sins 12 Kodansha 2014/12
Nakaba Suzuki
12 834,523 Kimi ni Todoke 23 Shueisha 2015/01
Karuho Shiina
13 828,807 Tokyo Ghoul:re 2 Shueisha 2015/03
Sui Ishida
14 817,169 The Seven Deadly Sins 13 Kodansha 2015/02
Nakaba Suzuki
15 763,866 Haven't You Heard? I'm Sakamoto 3 Kadokawa 2014/12
Nami Sano
16 744,719 Kuroko's Basketball 30 Shueisha 2014/12
Tadatoshi Fujimaki
17 721,444 The Seven Deadly Sins 14 Kodansha 2015/04
Nakaba Suzuki
18 720,254 Haikyu!! 15 Shueisha 2015/03
Haruichi Furudate
19 709,375 Assassination Classroom 14 Shueisha 2015/05
Yusei Matsui
20 689,076 Haikyu!! 16 Shueisha 2015/05
Haruichi Furudate
21 676,717 Black Butler 20 Square Enix 2014/12
Yana Toboso
22 664,546 Detective Conan 85 Shogakukan 2014/12
Gosho Aoyama
23 655,446 Saint Young Men 11 Kodansha 2015/02
Hikaru Nakamura
24 650,266 Blue Exorcist 14 Shueisha 2015/01
Kazue Katō
25 648,048 Terra Formars 12 Shueisha 2015/02
Story: Yū Sasuga / Art: Kenichi Tachibana
26 595,692 One-Punch Man 7 Shueisha 2014/12
Story: One / Art: Yuusuke Murata
27 580,514 Gekkan Shōjo Nozaki-kun 6 Square Enix 2015/02
Izumi Tsubaki
28 569,799 Terra Formars 11 Shueisha 2014/11
Story: Yū Sasuga / Art: Kenichi Tachibana
29 545,099 Bleach 66 Shueisha 2015/01
Tite Kubo
30 534,933 The Heroic Legend of Arslan 3 Kodansha 2015/02
Art: Hiromu Arakawa / Original Creator: Yoshiki Tanaka
31 532,420 March comes in like a lion 10 Hakusensha 2014/11
Chika Umino
32 517,554 Kyō wa Kaisha Yasumimasu. 8 Shueisha 2015/02
Mari Fujimura
33 513,118 Magi 25 Shogakukan 2015/04
Shinobu Ohtaka
34 508,470 One-Punch Man 8 Shueisha 2015/04
Story: One / Art: Yuusuke Murata
35 502,896 Detective Conan 86 Shogakukan 2015/04
Gosho Aoyama
36 500,125 Neon Genesis Evangelion Vol. 14 Kadokawa 2014/11
Manga: Yoshiyuki Sadamoto / Orignal Story: Khara
37 487,998 Bleach 67 Shueisha 2015/04
Tite Kubo
38 482,416 Fairy Tail 46 Kodansha 2014/11
Hiro Mashima
39 473,654 Fairy Tail 47 Kodansha 2015/01
Hiro Mashima
40 468,017 Real 14 Shueisha 2014/12
Takehiko Inoue
41 464,550 The Seven Deadly Sins 11 Kodansha 2014/10
Nakaba Suzuki
42 440,435 Space Brothers 25 Kodansha 2015/02
Chūya Koyama
43 438,746 Neon Genesis Evangelion Vol. 14 (Premium Limited Edition) Kadokawa 2014/11
Manga: Yoshiyuki Sadamoto / Orignal Story: Khara
44 435,101 Fairy Tail 48 Kodansha 2015/03
Hiro Mashima
45 431,452 Nisekoi 15 Shueisha 2014/12
Naoshi Komi
46 425,755 Mix 6 Shogakukan 2014/12
Mitsuru Adachi
47 424,299 The Seven Deadly Sins 10 Kodansha 2014/08
Nakaba Suzuki
48 421,326 JoJolion 9 Shueisha 2015/02
Hirohiko Araki
49 410,300 Natsume's Book of Friends 19 Hakusensha 2015/05
Yuki Midorikawa
50 407,300 Magi 24 Shogakukan 2015/01
Shinobu Ohtaka
51 403,297 The Seven Deadly Sins 9 Kodansha 2014/06
Nakaba Suzuki
52 402,936 Food Wars: Shokugeki no Soma 11 Shueisha 2015/03
Story: Yūto Tsukuda / Art: Shun Saeki / Cooperation: Yuki Morisaki
53 401,587 The Seven Deadly Sins 1 Kodansha 2013/02
Nakaba Suzuki
54 397,040 The Seven Deadly Sins 8 Kodansha 2014/04
Nakaba Suzuki
55 392,269 My Love Story!! 8 Shueisha 2015/03
Art: Aruko / Story: Kazune Kawahara
56 392,177 The Seven Deadly Sins 7 Kodansha 2014/02
Nakaba Suzuki
57 387,532 Food Wars: Shokugeki no Soma 12 Shueisha 2015/04
Story: Yūto Tsukuda / Art: Shun Saeki / Cooperation: Yuki Morisaki
58 387,514 Nisekoi 16 Shueisha 2015/02
Naoshi Komi
59 386,533 The Seven Deadly Sins 2 Kodansha 2013/04
Nakaba Suzuki
60 383,490 The Seven Deadly Sins 6 Kodansha 2013/12
Nakaba Suzuki
61 380,721 The Seven Deadly Sins 4 Kodansha 2013/08
Nakaba Suzuki
62 379,827 Kingdom 37 Shueisha 2015/01
Yasuhisa Hara
63 379,676 The Seven Deadly Sins 5 Kodansha 2013/10
Nakaba Suzuki
64 378,590 Chihayafuru 27 Kodansha 2015/04
Yuki Suetsugu
65 378,456 The Seven Deadly Sins 3 Kodansha 2013/06
Nakaba Suzuki
66 376,956 orange 4 Futabasha 2015/02
Ichigo Takano
67 372,933 Gintama 57 Shueisha 2015/01
Hideaki Sorachi
68 371,858 Master Keaton ReMaster Shogakukan 2014/11
Art: Naoki Urasawa / Story: Takashi Nagasaki
69 366,624 Kingdom 38 Shueisha 2015/04
Yasuhisa Hara
70 363,067 Big Windup! (Ookiku Furikabutte) 24 Kodansha 2014/12
Asa Higuchi
71 360,794 Movie Yo-kai Watch: Tanjō no Himitsu da Nyan! Shogakukan 2014/12
Art: Noriyuki Konishi / Original Concept/Supervision: Level 5
72 356,185 Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign 7 Shueisha 2015/01
Storyboard: Daisuke Furuya/ Story: Takaya Kagami / Art: Yamato Yamamoto
73 355,703 Hōzuki no Reitetsu 16 Kodansha 2014/11
Natsumi Eguchi
74 354,692 My Hero Academia 2 Shueisha 2015/01
Kōhei Horikoshi
75 348,525 Nisekoi 17 Shueisha 2015/04
Naoshi Komi
76 344,334 Handa-kun 3 Square Enix 2015/01
Satsuki Yoshino
77 342,515 Ahiru no Sora 39 Kodansha 2014/12
Takeshi Hinata
78 338,828 A Bride's Story 7 Kadokawa 2015/02
Kaoru Mori
79 330,875 Hōzuki no Reitetsu 17 Kodansha 2015/02
Natsumi Eguchi
80 329,862 The Ancient Magus' Bride 3 Mag Garden 2015/03
Kore Yamazaki
81 327,929 Ace of Diamond 45 Kodansha 2015/01
Yūji Terajima
82 326,245 Ace of Diamond 46 Kodansha 2015/03
Yūji Terajima
83 324,560 Ace of Diamond 44 Kodansha 2014/11
Yūji Terajima
84 322,026 Toriko 33 Shueisha 2015/01
Mitsutoshi Shimabukuro
85 319,740 A Silent Voice 7 Kodansha 2014/12
Yoshitoki Ōima
86 317,384 Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign 8 Shueisha 2015/04
Storyboard: Daisuke Furuya/ Story: Takaya Kagami / Art: Yamato Yamamoto
87 315,298 Dungeon Meshi (Delicious in Dungeon) 1 Kadokawa 2015/01
Ryōko Kui
88 312,457 Naruto 71 Shueisha 2014/11
Masashi Kishimoto
89 310,075 Ahiru no Sora 40 Kodansha 2015/03
Takeshi Hinata
90 307,384 To Love-Ru -Trouble- Darkness 12 Shueisha 2014/12
Art: Kentaro Yabuki / Story: Saki Hasemi
91 306,996 Gintama 58 Shueisha 2015/04
Hideaki Sorachi
92 305,455 My Hero Academia 3 Shueisha 2015/04
Kōhei Horikoshi
93 299,568 World Trigger 9 Shueisha 2015/01
Daisuke Ashihara
94 299,240 Toriko 34 Shueisha 2015/04
Mitsutoshi Shimabukuro
95 298,125 Wolf Girl & Black Prince 11 Shueisha 2014/11
Ayuko Hatta
96 297,951 World Trigger 10 Shueisha 2015/03
Daisuke Ashihara
97 294,191 Giant Killing 34 Kodansha 2015/01
Story: Masaya Tsunamoto / Art: Tsujitomo
98 293,384 Assassination Classroom 1 Shueisha 2012/11
Yusei Matsui
99 285,980 Skip Beat! 36 Hakusensha 2015/03
Yoshiki Nakamura
100 285,128 My Hero Academia 1 Shueisha 2014/11
Kōhei Horikoshi

Source: Oricon


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Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches ‒ Episode 8


I'm starting to suspect that Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches was slated for around half as many episodes as it actually needs. It keeps trying to run through a new story arc every week, and it keeps almost managing to make it work. Unfortunately, the key word is “almost.”

This witch of the week is Noa, a first-year student with the ability to see into the past of whomever she kisses. The student council thinks she's using her power to manipulate other students, and the supernatural studies club is tasked with shutting her down. Yamada and company try out a few amusingly awful tactics before learning that there's more to Noa and her power than meets the eye. When Yamada figures out what's really going on, he decides that it's time for a change of plans. There's a great deal of shouting and a couple of vaguely defined plot points, after which everything just sort of works out somehow.

As is often the case with the witches, Noa plays off of Yamada's personality quite well. She's at her most entertaining during the episode's first half, where the two of them simply find one another insufferable. Noa and Yamada have just enough in common that it's fun to watch them butt heads, especially when it results in Yamada getting bashed in the face with a broom. That rivalry shifts believably into a mutual understanding once it's obvious why they seem so similar; both characters are willing to play the antagonist in order to help their friends. It may not be terribly complex, but it's a decent piece of character development and a notable improvement over the last episode.

Noa's ability to see other people's past traumas is an interesting one, and I like the way the show plays around with our expectations here. It sets us up to think that Noa's out for herself, manipulating other students by using their pasts against them. Instead, we get a much more thoughtful look at what might happen if a halfway decent person ended up with this ability. Rather than serving as a tool for her own ambitions, Noa's power forces her to empathize with the people she uses it on and motivates her to look for a way to help them. It's a very human response to learning about another person's troubles, and another example of how this series uses the witch powers as more than just convenient story points.

Unfortunately, the show's issues with pacing continue to keep it from being as good as it ought to be. While not as desperately rushed as last week's episode, this is still a case of too much plot and not enough screen time. There's very little opportunity for the audience to process one scene before jumping into the next. We get all the information we need, but there's very little difference between the high and low points of the story. It's a bit like reading a summary of a novel in that we learn what happens without getting a chance to really appreciate it.

The series seems to be aware of this problem, but it hasn't picked a very good way to deal with it. The musical score in this episode dominates the more emotional scenes to the point where it starts to compete with the dialogue for the viewer's attention. Rather than giving the story enough breathing room to rise and fall naturally, the show resorts to blasting overly dramatic music in the hopes of making us feel something. Unfortunately, it ends up being more distracting than helpful.

The ideas behind Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches are still good, but the flaws in its execution are becoming frustratingly easy to predict. Faced with the challenge of making its source material fit into a limited number of episodes, it's floundering around in search of a cure-all solution. Unless it can find one soon, this show runs the risk of staying “good but not great” for the remainder of the season.

Rating: B-

Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Paul Jensen is a freelance writer and editor. You can follow more of his anime-related ramblings on Twitter.

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Plastic Memories ‒ Episode 10


Like a couple of episodes before it, this one was a waste until the last few minutes.

It was mostly a storm of clichés. Tsukasa has been in a stupor since Isla rejected him. His coworkers take the opportunity to prank him for several minutes of unfunny comedy. Isla thought that Michiru and Tsukasa were in a relationship and became jealous. Worst Character Eru sexually harassed Isla. The office is obsessed with Tsukasa's romantic life. Yadda yadda.

It all leads up to one worthwhile scene. Isla tells Michiru about her impending death. Shocked and grief-stricken, Michiru runs off. Tsukasa finds her and they start talking. Their relationship finally makes sense to Michiru, and she apologizes for all of the horrible things she's said about Tsukasa. When she learns how long Tsukasa has known about Isla's lifespan, she becomes angry. Michiru remembers how she wasn't able to accept her father's death and fears that this will happen to Tsukasa, but Tsukasa reassures her. He just wants to make happy memories with Isla during the time she has left. In the episode's most emotionally raw moment, Michiru vents her frustrations by screaming. She then approves of their relationship, telling Tsukasa to go find Isla. It's a mature move for a character whose primary purpose is Isla's romantic rival. Plastic Memories wastes a lot of time, but at least it knows when it needs to be serious.

When Tsukasa gets back to his apartment, Kazuki is there. She breaks up Tsukasa and Isla's partnership. I hope we learn more about what happened between Isla and Kazuki soon. They've been dangling that for a long time. I hope it's not just that Isla couldn't work on the day that Kazuki lost her leg. What really happened to Isla that day? Was her dementia setting in already?

By this point, I'm convinced that the show has blown its potential as a work of science fiction. There's not much time to explore the interesting questions about Giftias in society posed by the first few episodes. I guess they might bring the illegal Giftia retrievers back to up the stakes in the finale, but overall, the science fiction trappings were just a pretense to set up the specifics of Isla's situation. It's a source of melodrama.

What kills me about Plastic Memories is that it has managed both emotional resonance and fascinating speculation in the past. The first two episodes are still solid. It's just rarely accomplished both of these things at the same time, and only between episode-long doses of the hackiest romantic comedy antics. In the hands of a better writer, Plastic Memories could have excelled in both regards. Now it's just this limp morass, 1/3rd sci-fi, 1/3rd melodrama, and 1/3rd nothingness. Maybe it'll end on a high note?

Grade: C

Plastic Memories is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Gabriella Ekens studies film and literature at a US university. Follow her on twitter.

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Top-Selling Manga in Japan by Series: 2015 (First Half)



This list covers sales surveyed from November 17, 2014 to May 17, 2015.

1 7,059,400 The Seven Deadly Sins Kodansha
Nakaba Suzuki
2 7,046,066 One Piece Shueisha
Eiichiro Oda
3 5,231,158 Assassination Classroom Shueisha
Yusei Matsui
4 5,047,725 Attack on Titan Kodansha
Hajime Isayama
5 3,588,366 Haikyu!! Shueisha
Haruichi Furudate
6 2,640,791 Tokyo Ghoul Shueisha
Sui Ishida
7 2,459,918 Naruto Shueisha
Masashi Kishimoto
8 2,326,507 Blue Spring Ride Shueisha
Io Sakisaka
9 2,303,931 Terra Formars Shueisha
Story: Yū Sasuga / Art: Kenichi Tachibana
10 1,956,019 Yowamushi Pedal (Yowapeda) Akita Shoten
Wataru Watanabe
11 1,901,130 Ace of Diamond Kodansha
Yūji Terajima
12 1,822,201 Fairy Tail Kodansha
Hiro Mashima
13 1,774,654 Nisekoi Shueisha
Naoshi Komi
14 1,712,817 Tokyo Ghoul:re Shueisha
Sui Ishida
15 1,654,498 Food Wars: Shokugeki no Soma Shueisha
Story: Yūto Tsukuda / Art: Shun Saeki / Cooperation: Yuki Morisaki
16 1,536,516 Detective Conan Shogakukan
Gosho Aoyama
17 1,494,501 Magi Shogakukan
Shinobu Ohtaka
18 1,470,232 Kuroko's Basketball Shueisha
Tadatoshi Fujimaki
19 1,460,897 World Trigger Shueisha
Daisuke Ashihara
20 1,425,554 Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign Shueisha
Storyboard: Daisuke Furuya/ Story: Takaya Kagami / Art: Yamato Yamamoto
21 1,409,131 One-Punch Man Shueisha
Story: One / Art: Yuusuke Murata
22 1,380,603 Parasyte Kodansha
Hitoshi Iwaaki
23 1,214,859 Your Lie in April Kodansha
Naoshi Arakawa
24 1,180,388 Bleach Shueisha
Tite Kubo
25 1,156,132 Gintama Shueisha
Hideaki Sorachi
26 1,122,671 Kingdom Shueisha
Yasuhisa Hara
27 1,098,863 Strobe Edge Shueisha
Io Sakisaka
28 1,085,942 Neon Genesis Evangelion KADOKAWA
Manga: Yoshiyuki Sadamoto / Orignal Story: Khara
29 1,060,179 March comes in like a lion Hakusensha
Chika Umino
30 1,054,186 Hozuki no Reitetsu Kodansha
Natsumi Eguchi

Source: Oricon

Update: Typo fixed. Thanks, mangamuscle


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Oodles of Love Live! Noodles Stocked at Akihabara Animate


Distribution rescheduled over safety concerns


To promote the upcoming Love Live! movie, the Akihabara branch of Animate, a major anime goods retailer, is selling cup ramen featuring the Rin. It comes in two flavors, onion and leek. It can be bought individually for 200 yen ($1.61) or in 12-cup boxes for 2,400 yen ($19.40). The boxes come with a free clear file featuring Rin holding a steaming bowl of ramen (her favorite food).

Animate boasted that it had enough ramen to meet demand, tweeting these pictures of its inventory and claiming that two trucks had been loaded with ramen boxes.


Animate is currently taking orders. It was originally planning to distribute the ramen at its Akihabara store at midnight on June 1, but it later judged that "it would be difficult to secure the neighborhood's safety" and pushed the date forward to 7 AM. Japanese fans were left to speculate over what exactly that meant.

Love Live! The School Idol Movie is set to premiere on June 13.

[Via Yaraon!]


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Show By Rock!! ‒ Episode 9


The stakes are finally raised in Show By Rock!!, with the end of episode 9 featuring the show's darkest moment to date. It's disturbing in a good way, despite being somewhat tone-inconsistent with the rest of the series. Dagger and the shadowy figure exposit more about their malevolent goals, although there are still a few questions left to be answered. When Dagger confronts Criticrista at the end of the battle of the bands, he's almost certainly turning them into dark monsters, but the way they cower in the corner as his shadows envelop them, you'd think he was outright murdering them—if they're never healed, he kind of was.

However, before the episode takes such a dark turn, it's a commendably straightforward and successful take on the battle of the bands theme. Since this is Plasmagica's second face-off with Criticrista, the odds of them losing again are slim. (Thematically, anyway.) Still, even with such a predictable ending on the horizon, this episode hits all the right beats as it showcases the bandmates practicing for their big gig, trying in vain to incorporate over-the-top acts of showmanship into their performance, and finally, pulling off the ultimate concert. Episode 9 also marks the return of the CGI musical interludes that have been sorely missed these past few weeks. Thanks to the rematch against Cristicrista, viewers are treated to two upbeat tunes, courtesy of adorable chibi-fied animals. Not surprisingly, more screen time is given to Plasmagica's performance.

Despite being nicely incorporated into this episode, the girls of Criticrista remain underdeveloped. If they were meant to be Plasmagica's number one rivals, they should have been a more consistent part of the show. A joke that revolves around frog-girl Jacklyn getting depressed when her skin dries out is good for a chuckle, but having Holmy subsequently explain the joke to Rosia—something Rosia already knows—as she rehydrates Jacklyn is a blatant example of telling instead of showing (or in addition to showing). If the audience was given the chance to get a better feel for these characters, the quirks they exhibit during their brief appearances wouldn't be something that required lengthy explanations. Similarly, since we barely know her, Tsukino's weird daifuku analogies don't make her as charming and endearing as the producers likely intended.

Show By Rock!! is headed in the right direction as it begins to set itself up for an epic conclusion. The overall monster storyline wasn't really necessary to begin with, but since it's been established, it's high time the show started raising the stakes. The dark manner in which the episode ends might seem incongruous with the typically lighthearted nature of the show, and there's little doubt that Plasmagica (and Cyan in particular) will save the day and uncorrupt their freshly-felled rivals. Nevertheless, here's hoping the execution of the expected has a few entertaining surprises along the way.

Rating: B+

Show By Rock!! is currently streaming on Funimation.

Amy is a YA fantasy author who has loved anime for two decades.

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Live-Action Death Note Show Casts Misa, Light's Father


Popular photo idol Hinako Sano (live-action Jigoku Sensei Nube) will play the idol Misa Amane in July's live-action Death Note television series, while Yutaka Matsushige (Sukiyaki Western Django, Miss Hokusai) will play Sōichirō Yagami. Misa is an idol, popularly known as "Misa-Misa," who literally dedicates her life to the main character Light. Sōichirō Yagami is Light's father.

Other newly announced cast members include Reiko Fujiwara (live-action Kyō, Koi o Hajimemasu) as Light's little sister Sayu Yagami, Megumi Seki (live-action Honey and Clover) as Akiko Himura, Gōki Maeda (life-action Gokusen, Hana Zakari no Kimi-tachi e ~Ikemen Paradise 2011, When They Cry - Higurashi) as the detective Tōta Matsuda, Tomohisa Yuge (Kamen Rider Ryuki, Paradise Kiss, Higanjima) as the detective Shūichi Aizawa, Kazuaki Hankai (live-action MW, Kaibutsu-kun) as L's righthand man Watari, and Jiro Satō (life-action Gokusen, Judge) as the detective Kanzō Mogi. The show will premiere on July 5.

In Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata's original supernatural suspense manga, a teenager named Light finds a notebook with which he can put people to death by writing their names. He begins a self-anointed crusade against the criminals of the world, and a cat-and-mouse game begins with the authorities and one idiosyncratic genius detective.

The live-action series will feature an original story not told in the anime or movies. The cast of the new live-action version, which differs from the previous live-action adaptations, includes (from left to right in photograph below):

The previous live-action films and the musical did not feature Near.

The manga ran in Shueisha's Weekly Shonen Jump magazine from 2003 to 2006, and its 12 compiled book volumes have 30 million copies in print. It has already inspired three live-action films and a 37-episode television anime series in Japan. Viz Media released the Death Note manga, the anime series, and a spinoff novel in North America.

Viz Pictures released the three live-action films in American theaters. The live-action films star Tatsuya Fujiwara as Light Yagami and Ken'ichi Matsuyama as L.

More recently, the manga inspired a musical by a Japanese and American team that ran at Tokyo's Nissay Theatre from April 6-29. The musical traveled to Osaka and Nagoya in May, and it will also run in South Korea from July to August, but with a different cast.

Mantan Web posted more photographs of Sano as Misa.

Source: Mainichi Shimbun's Mantan Web

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Kuroko's Basketball ‒ Episode 21


As you are probably already aware, Kuroko's Basketball is an anime adaptation of a manga of the same name. Most of the time, the transition from paper to screen creates a complete half hour story arc, but then there are episodes like this one, which pick up odds and ends in a series of haphazardly connected vignettes. I have previously praised this construction during the Teiko Arc, where it conveys a mood as erratic as the scenes it cuts between. Today, however, the subject is simple: let's give all the lesser-seen side characters their moment in the sun before the curtain falls. The focus is on punny Izuki and happy-go-lucky Koganei for a lighter than usual episode that feels like a respite between acts of a play.

Like most long-running shounen anime, Kuroko's Basketball has acquired an enormous cast of characters. Every time somebody from Aomine's team or Kise's team or Murasakibara's team comments on the Rakuzan game from the sidelines, I have to look up their name in the wiki. In a show where supernatural basketball ability is the prime currency, it's easier for me to engrave the Generation of Miracles members and Kagami into my memory than anyone else in the show. Still, basketball isn't one on one, it's five on five. While Kagami goes into beast mode, Akashi calculates, and Kuroko acts as the soul of the show, there are seven other players on the court who aren't just standing there. Izuki's Eagle Eye (and Koganei's questionable Wild) aren't the flashiest powers, but this episode shows us that it's not just Kagami and Kuroko who can stand up to Rakuzan.

Izuki knows how to set the mood of the show. His Eagle Eye ability, which surveys the entire court, gives the viewer a bird's eye view of the action and emphasizes the intensity of the game. Meanwhile, his puns do the opposite. One of the episode's funniest moments comes when one of Izuki's usually unwelcome puns makes Hayama laugh in the middle of a one-on-one. Hayama himself is the closest Rakuzan has to a jester, so it makes sense that these two characters would face one another, personality-wise. Mibuchi vs. Koganei forms the Odd Couple by comparison. Pretty Mibuchi sees Koganei as below his notice, and yet his Heaven, Earth, and Void shots don't seem to faze him. But before the mood can get too tense, Koganei's sister goes into a flashback of her little brother's earlier decision to start playing basketball. Once again, even in the middle of a battle, there are lots of jokes.

While we're focusing on side characters, nothing overly serious is going to happen. Indeed, the score stayed relatively steady during this entire episode. As interesting—and often silly—as Izuki and Koganei's antics can be, the episode gives us every indication that nothing these side characters do is going to heavily impact the game. Instead, we are given slight glimpses of what's to come. Kagami especially is shown evolving this episode through elemental references: a ring of fire, a vast ocean, lightning sparks in his eyes. Kuroko, who has seriously gotten his groove back as he covers a beaten Mayuzumi, has sweat droplets falling in place of tears. Akashi seriously means business now, still retaining the ability to terrify and subdue Hayama and Mibuchi, who were otherwise very lighthearted this episode.

Today's action was interesting and well executed as always, but the focus on side characters and the feeling that we're receiving a hodgepodge of throwaway manga panels kept the stakes too low to be meaningful. I am far more excited for what's to come: the inevitable showdown between Akashi, Kagami, and Kuroko.

Rating: B-

Kuroko's Basketball is currently streaming on Daisuki.

Lauren writes about anime and journalism at Otaku Journalist.

this article has been modified since it was originally posted; see change history

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Rock Band Mr. Children Performs Theme for Hosoda's The Boy & The Beast


The popular band Mr. Children is contributing the theme song for The Boy and The Beast (Bakemono no Ko), the first new anime film from director Mamoru Hosoda in three years. Hosoda had listened to the song "Starting Over" on Mr. Children's upcoming June 4 album Reflection, and praised it, "It definitely represents the worldview of The Boy and The Beast." With that, he decided to make this song the film's theme song.

Mr. Children vocalist and guitarist Kazutoshi Sakurai said, "I've just seen an amazing film. As a single father and as an artist — in my own small way — who has created through repeated trial-and-error, I was overcome with heart-wrenching feelings. It fills us with great pride to contribute, however little we can, to this marvelous work."

Hosoda said, "I think it is a huge honor to be able to collaborate with Mr. Children on The Boy and The Beast. The Boy and The Beast film is a coming-of-age story of a solitary boy, and the theme "Starting Over" is a song of fighting, of a boy overcoming the confusion of adolescence. Please give it a listen, and contemplate the title's meaning of 'a fresh start.'"

The story of the film is set in the human realm (Tokyo's Shibuya ward) and the bakemono realm ("Jūtengai"). In these two worlds which must not intersect, there lives a lonely boy and a lonely bakemono. One day, the boy gets lost in the bakemono world, becomes the disciple of the bakemono Kumatetsu, and is renamed Kyūta.

Narrator: Apart from the human realm, there is another realm that you don't know.
Kumatetsu: Hey, you alive or dead?
Kyūta: I—it's a monster.
Kumatetsu: You coming with me?
Narrator: The realm of beasts.
Text: From The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, Summer Wars, and Wolf Children director Mamoru Hosoda.
Text and Narrator: Kyūta, the boy who is all alone.
Kumatetsu: From now on, this boy is my disciple.
Text and Narrator: Kumatetsu, a rowdy beast.
Text: The Boy and The Beast as student and master?!
Narrator: Thus begins an unlikely bond between student and master.
Kumatetsu: I'm your master!
Kyūta: I'm not your disciple!
Narrator: They will push each other.
Tatara: Just give it a rest. Why did you even take a human boy as a disciple?
Narrator: They will understand each other.
Narrator: And before they notice it, they will share an irreplaceable connection.
Kyūta: Don't lose, Kumatetsu!
Kumatetsu: Kyūta...
Text: This summer, Studio Chizu presents a moving masterpiece.
Text: If I'm with you...
Kaede: Where did you come from?
Text: ...I can become stronger.
Text and Narrator: The Boy and The Beast

Hosoda (Summer Wars, Wolf Children) created and scripted the movie. It will be Hosoda's first film since 2012, when his relatively new animation movie company Studio Chizu released Wolf Children as its first project. Masakatsu Takagi (Wolf Children) is scoring the soundtrack. The film stars:

Kōji Yakusho as Kumatetsu, a bear-like being who acts as a teacher to the human Kyūta
Aoi Miyazaki as child Kyūta
Shōta Sometani as adolescent Kyūta

The film will open on July 11 in Japan. Renji Asai (Sentō Jōsai Masurawo) launched the manga in Kadokawa Shoten's Monthly Shōnen Ace on April 25.

Funimation licensed the American rights to the film, and plans to release the film in select theaters later this year and nationwide in early 2016. Theatrical screenings have also been set for France, and the major French movie studio Gaumont will handle international sales outside Asia. Funimation is working with Gaumont International to release the film.

Mr. Children previously contributed the ending theme song "Niji no Kanata e" to the Shōnan Bakusōzoku original video anime project and the theme song "Fanfare" to One Piece Film Strong World. Below is the trailer for Mr. Children's Reflection album:

Source: Mainichi Shimbun's Mantan Web

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